Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin Predicts Divine Wrath after Rhode Island Enacts Same-Sex Civil Unions

Responding to Rhode Island's new law permitting civil unions for same-sex couples, Bishop Thomas Tobin forbids Catholics to support or participate in any way in these unions.  "To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful," Tobin maintains.

Not only that: Tobin brings out the big religious-right rhetorical guns and says that civil unions for same-sex couples will bring God's wrath down on Rhode Island: 

Can there be any doubt that Almighty God will, in his own time and way, pass judgment upon our state, its leaders and citizens, for abandoning his commands and embracing public immorality? 

So think about it for a moment: Catholics (and Catholic bishops) have long since tacitly accepted the reality of divorce for Western societies in general, and even for Catholics themselves.  The bishops do not try to shame and frighten their flocks with threats of divine wrath if Catholics love, support, assist someone who divorces.

Nor do they spend lavish sums trying to outlaw either divorce or artificial contraception as they do with gay marriage or gay unions, though a far larger percentage of lay Catholics practice contraception than the percentage of Catholics we can expect to contract same-sex civil unions.  But nary peep about God blasting the earth with fire due to Catholic collusion with contraception.

This kind of ugly rhetoric is reserved solely and exclusively for the gays.  And it shows to what a shameful extent the U.S. Catholic bishops have sold their souls to the puppet-masters of the religious and political right.  This is the kind of mean, uneducated, spiteful, bible-thumping rhetoric we expect to fall out of the mouth of a Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or Fred Phelps.

Not out of the mouth of a Catholic bishop--particularly one who claims, with oily insincerity, that he and other Catholics "have respect and love for persons with same-sex attraction."  News flash to Bishop Tobin: you don't echo the gay-bashing rhetoric of fundamentalist right-wing preachers, which singles gay human beings out in a way no other minority group is singled out, and tries to make them responsible for all the ills that befall a society--and then turn around and say you love and respect that group of human beings.

What you are doing with your rhetoric of divine punishment is setting a vulnerable minority group up for abusive and violent treatment.  For discrimination.

Remember how the bishops have reassured us over and over that it's gay marriage they oppose, not gay civil unions--over which they have no jurisdiction at all, since these are civil ceremonies that have nothing to do with any church anywhere?  Remember how the bishops keep informing us that because they love and respect their gay brothers and sisters, they promote and defend all of our civil rights short of marriage?

Turns out they've been lying through their teeth.  It's all about bashing the gays, when push comes to shove.  Even though divorce and the practice of contraception far and away threaten the sanctity of marriage, Catholic-style, than anything a gay person might dream of doing will ever do.

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